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Business Principles

CHICAGO AUTOMOBILE TRADE ASSOCIATION MEMBERS AGREE TO:

  • Promote and maintain honesty and dependability in our business operations and to avoid deception and fraud.
  • Employ truth and accuracy in our advertising and selling of automotive products.
  • Stand by any guarantee given with the sale and service of motor vehicles.
  • Strive constantly to improve our business methods and ethics and to maintain fair competition to the end that the public will be better served.
  • Refrain from the performance of any act which would be injurious or detrimental to the automobile- retailing industry or contrary to the public interest.
 

Letter from 2019-20 Chairman, Bill Haggerty 

Bill_Haggerty
2019-20 CATA Chairman and 2021 Chicago Auto Show Chairman Bill Haggerty 
DEAR FELLOW CATA MEMBER:
 
There are uneventful years that blend together with other years, and then there are years like 2020, when a global pandemic forced everyone to adjust, compelling outright changes to many companies' business models in order to succeed.
 
We heard all the clichés describing
this period in history - unprecedented, challenging, seismic. It was all that and more. But dealers and the CATA's allied members are an adaptable lot, and we managed to continue moving forward.
 
When the CATA board of directors gathered for our monthly meeting in March 2020, a national emergency over Covid-19 had just been declared. The directors - competitors in the car business - agreed that cooperation, information-sharing, and a "We're all in this together" attitude was the only way we all would prevail.
 
The first victory came when dealers convinced lawmakers that the services they provide are "essential" and that dealerships thus were eligible to remain open for business. With it came the dawn of widespread vehicle sales and service work that begins and ends at the customer's home. Obtaining "wet" signatures on some paperwork can pose a challenge versus digital signatures, and efforts to change that for forms required by federal agencies will require federal action. Dealers in the Chicago area in 2019 donated more than $50,000 to the NADA's political action committee for such efforts.
 
The Illinois General Assembly's 2020 spring session turned into the session that wasn't, with lawmakers forced into recess by the approaching pandemic and unable to debate a repeal of the $10,000 tax credit limit available on traded-in vehicles. That was unfortunate, as support for repeal was widespread. The CATA and others will take another run at the matter during the next legislative session.
 
Legislators and Gov. J.B. Pritzker were attracted to the CATA's repeal argument, which wasn't merely an appeal to collect less tax revenue. Instead, the CATA pushed for a $75 increase in the flat tax owed in private vehicle transactions. About 840,000 vehicles are sold in Illinois each year in private transactions. The NADA notes that retail sales increase with the presence of a trade-in credit.
 
Another 2020 victim in Springfield: yet another bill to repeal the prohibition of the retail sale of vehicles on Sundays. Such legislation has been introduced in Springfield every year since 2014, although none of the bills has gained traction - or a vote.
 
A temporary registration in Illinois is valid for out-of-state purchasers for 30 days, a length of time even the state concedes is insufficient to process the paperwork. The CATA has been working with lawmakers on legislation to increase the registrations to 90-day terms.
 
The Illinois attorney general's office continued to be stern in its efforts to maintain a level playing field among area dealers and their advertising. The office fined at least one dealership in excess of $100,000 in August 2019 for violating the state's motor vehicle advertising regulations.
 
The Better Business Bureau of Chicago and northern Illinois monitors dealer advertising under the BBB-CATA Advertising Review Program. At a 2019 presentation at the CATA, BBB representatives said that gifts - lifetime warranties, tires, oil changes and even car washes - commonly seen in dealer ads are one of the most common infractions they saw. Also recently, the BBB has seen a strong increase in lease payment advertisements in which loyalty and conquest rebates are included in the payment amounts. Such advertising is not acceptable i n Illinois.
 
No doubt the largest structural change to the association's board of directors came in April 2020, when the directors voted to contract the size of the body from 15 directors to 13 over two years. We made the change to our bylaws to reflect the difficult situation in which we found ourselves due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
 
My fellow directors and I reasoned that most dealers would prefer to focus on their business concerns in that economic climate rather than mount a campaign to get elected to the board. The board reduced from 18 directors following the Great Recession in the 2000s.
 
The board's Member Benefits Committee, which works to establish and maintain approved member partner relationships with allied members that offer programs with unique value to dealer members and to the CATA, continues to expand. Over the past year, the association elevated The KEEPS Corporation to approved member status and DSi Recycling Systems to being a recommended service provider. With its Dynatron Software, KEEP offers solutions for dealership service departments. DSi is a full-service clean-burn furnace and boiler distributor.
 
In the wake of Illinois legalizing the recreational use of marijuana, the CATA expanded the syllabus of a course that teaches dealership managers how to detect whether employees are under the influence of the drug at work. The collective bargaining agreement with Mechanics Local 701 stipulates that, for a manager to accuse an employee of being under the influence of drugs or alcohol, the manager must be trained to do so.
 
For businesses that have not already done so, be sure to conduct training to avoid instances of workplace sexual harassment. The annual training is part of the Workplace Transparency Act, which took effect in 2020. Employers who do not provide compliant training are subject to civil penalties beginning at $500 and increasing to $5,000 for subsequent violations.
 
The CATA is developing a pilot program for area high school students enrolled in vocational training, to expose them to service department work and potential careers as technicians. The students could earn school credit for their work, and they would be guided to community colleges to continue their vocational educations. If the program succeeds, it would be rolled out at schools throughout the area. But like too many other things of late, the pandemic forced the program
to pause.
 
On another front, the CATA in April 2020 donated $15,000 to Illinois Broadcasters Uniting Against Hunger, a campaign by state television and radio stations combating hunger and food bank shortages. The contribution really is just a natural extension of the good work auto dealers do in their communities throughout the year.
 
Chicagoland Dealers Care is another program for the association to share its largess on behalf of its members. The program can match gifts up to $1,500 that area dealers give to local nonprofits. Over the past year, donations were directed to the Elite Stars Foundation (Arlington Heights Ford), GiGi's Playhouse (Community Honda of Orland Park), Boy Scouts of America (Joe Cotton Ford, Carol Stream), and The Bridge Teen Center (Planet Honda, Matteson).
 
One hundred-plus dealerships hosted a Barbecue for the Troops to benefit the USO of Illinois in July 2019, including 20 dealers that had not previously hosted an event. Also, more than 500 people entered a contest to have an ultimate barbecue in their backyard with mouth- watering barbecue fare from Real Urban Barbecue and a special visit by National Hockey League Hall of Famer and Chicago Blackhawks Ambassador Chris Chelios.
 
The 2019 barbecues raised a combined $146,500, bringing the seven- year total to nearly $900,000. Alas, the pandemic forced 2020 efforts to hit the pause button. But if social distancing measures ease, directors said the 2020 barbecues could move to October.
 
I was pleased that the CATA board of directors nominated Terry D'Arcy for the 2020 Time Dealer of the Year award. The principal of D'Arcy Buick-GMC in Joliet, Terry was one of 49 dealer dealers from across
the country to be nominated for the prestigious honor. The Illinois Automobile Dealers Association nominated Elmhurst dealer Dan Roesch.
 
The association in May presented the 2020 Spirit of Carol Cooling Scholarship to a graduating senior at Hersey High School in Arlington Heights. Kathryn Costello received a $1,000 grant to put toward future studies. The CATA established the scholarship in 2014 to honor Cooling, a Hersey alumna and a longtime special events director at NBC 5 Chicago who succumbed to cancer in 2013. As owner of the Chicago Auto Show, the CATA worked closely with Cooling to produce live TV auto show specials, many which won Emmy Awards.
 
My thanks to Tony Guido of Arlington Heights Ford for leading a successful Chicago Auto Show as its 2020 chairman. I will have big shoes to fill in my role as its 2021 chairman.
 
Some 250 years ago, the activist Thomas Paine wrote about "the times that try men's souls." That quote continued, "The harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph." Good luck to you all for a triumphant year ahead.
 
Sincerely, Bill Haggerty
2019-2020 Chairman